Page last updated at 17:14 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Mumbai cyclone threat 'recedes'

Officials watch ground staff cover the ground at the DY Patil stadium in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009.
Rain prevented India and Australia's cricketers playing in Mumbai

The threat posed by a cyclone off the western coast of the Indian state of Maharashtra is receding, officials say.

But a relief and rehabilitation department spokesman in Mumbai said that precautions still need to be taken against the threat of a violent storm.

Warnings of a cyclone coming in from the Arabian Sea prompted the authorities in Mumbai (Bombay) to close schools, shops and offices.

Experts say that the precise path of the storm is still not clear.

The start of the one-day cricket series between India and Australia in Mumbai was delayed because of heavy rain.

India is regularly hit by cyclones. Rain has been in short supply in large parts of Maharashtra recently, with many areas experiencing drought.

High winds

The Indian Meteorological Department said on Wednesday that while sea winds continue to blow at 80km/h (50mph), the force of the rain was decreasing.

So far the storm has only caused relatively minor damage - with houses collapsing in some coastal areas because of the heavy rain. At least one person died because of a collapsing tree and five fishing boats are missing at sea.

Rain lashed parts of western India for much of Tuesday, the met office said.

In Mumbai, air and train services remained unaffected.

The authorities in the neighbouring state of Gujarat are closely watching 175 villages in 12 coastal districts where they have warned that thousands of people may have to be evacuated to safer areas.

Heavy rain and high winds are also being forecast off Goa, Karnataka and Kerala, other states on the west coast, over the next two days.

Officials say it is difficult at present to predict the course of the storm, which may veer off in another direction in the Arabian Sea or lose strength as it travels inland.

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